In His temptation, Yeshua played two representative roles
In His temptation, Yeshua played two representative roles, one for Israel and one for all believers. While many commentators and theologians recognize the second role, they fail to see the importance of His role for Israel. In His temptations, Yeshua was representing Israel.
There are five ways in which this can be seen.
The first way is that Yeshua was addressed as the Son of God, a title which relates Him to God’s Chosen People. Israel, as a nation, is called “the son of God” in Exodus 4:22-23 and Hosea 11:1. Yeshua is called “the Son of God” in Matthew 2:15, which cites the Hosea account. In Matthew 4:3 and 4:6,
Satan addresses Him in this way. So, the very title, “the Son of God,” relates Messiah to Israel.
The second similarity which attests to Yeshua’s representative role for Israel is that His temptation took place in the wilderness. Just as Israel was tested in the wilderness (I Cor. 10:1-13), Messiah’s temptation also took place in the wilderness (Lk. 4:1).
The third similarity which shows this relationship between Israel and her Messiah is in the use of the figure forty. Israel spent forty years in the wilderness (Num. 32:13); Messiah spent forty days in the wilderness (Lk. 4:2). Though forty is a common figure in the Bible, here it relates the Messiah to His people.
The fourth way this relationship can be seen is that in both of the above cases, the Holy Spirit was present. The Holy Spirit was present with Israel during the wilderness wandering (Is. 63:7-14). Just so, the Spirit was present with Messiah (Lk. 4:1).
The fifth point which demonstrates Messiah as representative of the nation is that He responded to all three of Satan’s temptations by citing
Scripture from one book, the book of Deuteronomy, which is God’s covenant book with the people of Israel.
Now, the point of all this is to show that where Israel as a nation has failed, the ideal Israelite, Yeshua the Messiah, succeeded. He became Israel’s substitute, not only in these temptations, but also as the final substitute, the final sacrifice for sin.
Not only did Messiah play a representative role for Israel, He also represented all believers. Hebrews 4:15 says that He was tempted in all
points like as we are, yet without sin. This, then, becomes the basis for His priesthood. Because He was tempted as believers are, He could become their sympathetic High Priest. This does not mean that Yeshua suffered every type of temptation believers experience, just as they do not suffer every type of temptation He did. For example, they are never going to be tempted to turn stones into bread. On the other hand, having never married, Yeshua was never tempted to commit adultery.
Hebrews 4:15 can be explained by I John 2:16, which reads, For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the
vain glory of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. This verse points out that there are three areas of temptation: the lust of the flesh, the lust
of the eyes, and the pride of life. Every specific type of temptation will fit into one of these categories. When Yeshua was tempted to change stones into bread, it was after He had fasted for forty days. He was extremely hungry, and His flesh cried out to be satisfied with food. This was a temptation in the area of the lust of the flesh. Of course, it was God’s will for Yeshua to satisfy His own hunger, but it was not God’s will for Him to use His Messianic power to achieve this.
In the second temptation, Yeshua was given a satanic vision whereby He was able to literally see all the kingdoms of the world in a moment
of time. Satan then said, To you will I give all this authority (Lk. 4:6). As the prince of this world, Satan has authority over all kingdoms. The
offer to transfer this authority to Yeshua was really an offer of a shortcut to His messianic goal. It is the will of God the Father for the
Son to rule over the kingdoms of this world; but the means of attaining that authority was to be by the cross, not by worshipping Satan. Jesus could see what could be His for one act of worship. This was a temptation in the area of the lust of the eyes.
During the third temptation, Satan asked the Messiah to throw Himself off the pinnacle of the Temple to prove He was the Son of God. This was a temptation in the area of the pride of life, because He was asked to prove that He was the Messiah. The pinnacle of the Temple was the southeast corner of both the city wall and the Temple compound wall, the highest point from top to bottom. When Satan challenged Yeshua to throw Himself off the pinnacle of the Temple, he basically said, “If you are the Son of God, prove it to me by jumping off the pinnacle, because Psalm 91 says that if the Messiah stumbles, the angels will catch Him, so He could not be hurt before His time. So if you are really the Son of God, prove it to me by jumping off, and let me see Psalm 91 fulfilled.” Satan was right. If Yeshua had thrown Himself down, Psalm 91:11-12 would have applied. Angels would have rushed to His rescue because He was not allowed to die before His time. The angels would have let Him down gently from where He had jumped. The Temple compound was always full of people. If they had seen Yeshua jump from the pinnacle and float gently to the ground, they would have instantaneously proclaimed Him the Messiah. However, this was not the way God wanted to prove His Messiahship, and He had nothing to
prove to Satan anyway.
The fact that Yeshua was tempted in all three areas of I John 2:16 proves that He indeed has been in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin (Heb. 4 :15). The three temptations may be summarized as follows. The temptation to change stones into bread was a challenge that related to the will of God. Yeshua had to decide that while it was very much God’s will to satisfy His hunger, was it God’s will for Him to do it in this way, using His miraculous power? The answer was “no.” When He was shown all the kingdoms of the world, it was a test of His submission. Would Yeshua consistently submit Himself to God the Father, or would He, on this one occasion, submit Himself to the authority of Satan in order to gain the power over the kingdoms of the world and bypass the suffering on the cross? It is God’s will for Yeshua to rule over the kingdoms of the world one day, but this was not the manner in which He wanted His Son to achieve this messianic goal. The temptation at the pinnacle of the Temple was a test of His dependence upon God. There is a right way and a wrong way of depending upon God. The wrong way tests God, tempting Him to fulfill His promises. Indeed, if Yeshua had jumped off the pinnacle of the Temple merely on His own will, defying the will of the Father, He would have been testing God’s promises. One must never test God’s promises. One must simply believe that He will fulfill them in due time. While it was God’s will for Yeshua to be proven the Son of God, this was not the means of achieving it.
Messiah resisted all the temptations Satan offered. It is noteworthy that He did so by citing Scripture, even when Satan misused verses by
quoting them clearly out of context. This is the way all believers should resist Satan as well. The result was that when the devil had completed
every temptation, meaning in all three points, he departed from him (Lk. 4:13). Yeshua’s temptation proves a biblical principal found in James
4:7: If one resists Satan, he will flee, and resisting always comes by Scripture (Eph. 6:10-18). Luke added one last phrase and said that the
victory was for a season. Every spiritual triumph is temporary. There will be more spiritual battles later, and the spiritual warfare must be
fought until the day of death. Both Matthew and Mark ended their accounts of the temptation of Yeshua by stating that angels came and ministered unto Him (Mt. 4:11; Mk. 1:13).
From: Yeshua The Life of Messiah from a Messianic Jewish Perspective. The Abridged Version p94-97
Dy Dr Arnold Fruchtenbaum